Postdisaster Reciprocity and the Development of Inequality in Personal Networks

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Labor, Exchange, Social support, Hazards, Social networks

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Within the context of major changes in economics, population distribution, and lifestyles around the world, people continue to rely on personal relationships for support. People also often create or find themselves in relationships that are alternatively asymmetrical or balanced. In this study, we are interested in how people face acute or chronic hazards and how asymmetrical or balanced exchange relationships are associated with different types of social support in these contexts. This study examines the degree to which populations in three disaster settings–flooding in Mexico and volcanic eruptions in Mexico and Ecuador–show variation in the degree and form of reciprocity. We found people on average to engage in giving and/or receiving with three to five people in their personal networks. Most of these relationships were reciprocal, but those that were not reciprocal suggested potential inequality in these rural communities.

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Economic Anthropology, v. 2, issue 2, p. 385-404